It’s college move-in time. For many, this is the first time students will be living away from home and moving into a smaller space. It might even be the first time sharing a room—and a bathroom—with someone. With a roommate and limited space, if you’re a soon-to-be college student, you might be in for a wake-up call.
A college dorm room isn’t just a bedroom anymore – it’s a kitchen, living room, dining room and bedroom all in one. We’ve got some safe and easy problem-solvers to prepare you for dorm living.
1. Make your own first-aid kit
A parent isn’t going to be there with bandages and pain relievers whenever you need them. Putting together your own first-aid kit is an inexpensive and simple way to make sure you’re ready for any minor injuries or illnesses. It’s also something many first-time students forget. Pack a container with bandages, cough drops, cold medicine, antiseptic wipes, pain reliever and cotton balls.
2. Cool it down
If your room comes without air conditioning it may get pretty hot, especially during the first few weeks. By hanging a damp towel in front of your window, you can quickly cool down your room and keep the hot air out. You can also put a frozen water bottle in front of a fan to help spread cool air on the really warm days.
3. Decorate without damages
You want to decorate and make the dorm yours, but damages come with fines. Washi tape is made with a lighter adhesive and is an easy way to avoid ruining your walls and paint job. This decorative tape can be used to hang photos and posters. Removable adhesive-backed strips and hooks are also helpful for hanging heavier art work or to act as organization for coats, towels and jewelry.
4. Keep it smelling nice
Candles are a big no-no in dorms. They can be a safety hazard and set off fire alarms. Don’t worry – there are easier ways to keep your room smelling fresh and clean without annoying your floor mates. Try putting a dryer sheet or car air freshener in front of your fan to freshen up your space.
5. Make the most of your mini fridge
If you thought sharing a room was hard, sharing a mini fridge can be just as difficult. Removing shelves and being creative with stacking can all help add space. Adjust or remove shelves to create room for taller objects like milk cartons or water pitchers. Attach binder clips to the slats of your shelf to neatly stack water bottles into a sturdy pyramid shape. If all else fails, mini fridges are great at storing mini objects. Downsize your snacks by purchasing smaller bottles or removing the bulky containers keeping snacks together.
6. Organize your closet
You might want to bring your entire closet to school, but space is limited. When packing for school and before heading home for breaks, plan ahead for the change of weather, rotating clothes for each season and optimizing space in your closet for only the clothes you will wear. Folding your clothes and placing them vertically, not horizontally, in drawers can help add more space in your college dorm dresser. You’ll also have a better view of what clothes you brought.
7. Manage your time
You’re on your own for the first time and suddenly have club meetings, homework, group projects, sport practices, classes and more to keep track of. Plug important deadlines into your phone calendar or a to-do list app like Todoist or Wunderlist so your schedule stays with you wherever you are on campus. Placing a dry erase board on your desk or wall can help you manage your time by creating the perfect check list, schedules for project and test dates, or messages for your roommate.
8. Remember your keys
Losing a dorm key can be costly, but locking yourself out of your own dorm is time consuming and – let’s be honest – embarrassing. Attach your keys to a lanyard or a carabiner on your book bag. And when you get back into your room, place a hook or colorful container by the door to remind you when you leave to grab your keys. Just be sure to put them back in the same place each time.
9. Keep your stuff safe
A college dorm is not the place for family heirlooms or expensive jewelry. If you have something of value you need to have on campus, consider investing in a safe. They provide safe storage for cash, credit cards, jewelry and more. For bigger valuables like a TV, laptop or game consoles, remember to lock your door and keep the items out of plain sight when not in use. Take pictures, label your name or write down serial numbers of your valuables so if something does go missing and is later found you can prove the item is yours.
10. Be social
College is a new experience with the chance to make new and possibly life-long friends. While you’ll be able to join tons of clubs and make friends in your classes, having an “open door” policy is another way to meet new people on your floor. Bring a door stop and prop your door open when you’re relaxing in your room. You’ll be surprised at how many people stop and say hi.
There’s definitely a lot to look forward to when you move in. Remember, it’s always better to be over-prepared than under-prepared, and you can never be too cautious about your own safety. Always keep your door locked when you aren’t there and follow the dorm’s instructions to ensure you have a memorable experience and safe year.
One final tip for parents: Make sure your insurance coverage is up to date. If your student has a car for the first time or is making the move off campus to an apartment rental, contact your ERIE agent to make sure your coverage makes the grade.